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September 16, 2014 / 21 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘the Netherlands’

Why the EU Refuses to Classify Hezbollah as a Terror Org.

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

The Lebanon-based Islamic organization Hezbollah is one of the most dangerous groups in the world. Recently, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah incited violence against American and European interests over the movie The Innocence of Muslims. And yet, the European Union refuses to follow America’s example and classify Hezbollah as a terrorist organization – a move that would enable the E.U. to freeze the group’s assets in Europe.

Several people, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, have been killed, ostensibly in retaliation for the movie, which is perceived to be critical of Muhammad, the 7th century Arab warlord who founded Islam. Instead of calling for calm, Hezbollah leader Nasrallah called for prolonged protests: “The whole world needs to see your anger on your faces, in your fists and your shouts.”

Hezbollah is also involved in terrorist activities in Syria. During a meeting on September 7 in Paphos, Cyprus, the foreign ministers of the 27 member states of the European Union discussed the situation in Syria, including the position which the E.U. should take regarding Hezbollah. While Britain and the Netherlands urged other E.U. governments to join the United States in imposing sanctions on Hezbollah, they were unable to convince the other E.U. members. Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal said that Hezbollah should, further, be branded a terrorist organization; he was, however, was isolated with this stance.

This does not come as a surprise, considering the E.U.’s earlier refusal to condemn Hezbollah for terrorism. Last July, Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs, visited the E.U. capital, Brussels, to persuade the E.U. to follow America’s example and classify Hezbollah a terrorist organization. Lieberman met resistance – a lot. He was attempting to isolate Hezbollah after the July 18 suicide bombing at the airport of the Bulgarian coastal resort of Burgas – an attack, and clearly a terrorist one – in which five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver were killed.

According to Israeli and American intelligence sources, the terrorist attack was the work of Hezbollah, upon orders from Iran. Nevertheless, the Cypriot minister of Foreign Affairs, Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, who currently holds the rotating E.U. presidency said that there is “no tangible evidence of Hezbollah engaging in acts of terrorism.” Hence, there was “no consensus for putting Hezbollah on the list of terrorist organizations.” He emphasized that Hezbollah was an organization with a political as well as an armed wing and that it has representatives in the Lebanese parliament and government.

In 2008, the Netherlands declared Hezbollah and all its branches terrorist entities. Britain considers only its armed wing a terrorist group. Consequently, Hezbollah can operate freely all over Europe, except in the Netherlands. Apart from the Netherlands and the United States, only Canada, Australia and New Zealand have classified Hezbollah as a terrorist group. The European Parliament did the same in a 2005 resolution, but as the latter was non-binding the E.U. has ignored it.

Jacob Campbell, a researcher at the British Institute for Middle Eastern Democracytold the Jerusalem Post: “Within just days of the Burgas bombing – almost undoubtedly perpetrated by Hezbollah – the Presidency of the E.U. Council explicitly ruled out the possibility of listing Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, insisting that there is no ‘tangible evidence’ to link Hezbollah to terrorism. This ludicrous statement was made despite an earlier resolution adopted by the European Parliament, which cites ‘clear evidence’ of terrorist acts committed by Hezbollah. On this issue, as in so many others, Brussels appears to have its head buried firmly in the sand.”

France is one of the countries that oppose the efforts to blacklist Hezbollah. France, the former colonial power in Lebanon, wants to preserve its diplomatic influence in that country. In 2011, Najib Mikati, a Hezbollah-backed politician, became Prime Minister of Lebanon after Hezbollah toppled the previous government. Even deadly attacks by Hezbollah on French nationals have not persuaded the French government to designate the group as terrorist. Last year, Alain Juppé, the then Foreign Minister of France, accused Hezbollah of attacking French U.N. peacekeepers in Lebanon. However, with Hezbollah constituting part of the Lebanese establishment, the French are reluctant to act against it.

The German government, too, refuses to draw the obvious conclusion regarding Hezbollah, although the German domestic intelligence agency, the Bundesverfassungsschutz, has warned that Hezbollah has over 900 active members in Germany. In 2008, the German Interior Ministry restricted the reception of the programs of the Hezbollah television station Al-Manar in German hotels. Al-Manar is used by Hezbollah to recruit terrorists and communicate with sleeper cells around the globe.

Honor Violence in America

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Aiya Altemeemi, aged 19, suffered a punishment last February that none of her schoolmates in Phoenix, Arizona could have imagined: her father cut her throat with a kitchen knife. When she escaped to her bedroom, her mother and sisters followed, tied her to her bed, taped her mouth shut, and beat her. And this was not the first time: previously, when Aiya had expressed reservations about marrying the 38-year-old man her parents had chosen as her husband, her mother had shackled her to the same bed and burned her with a hot spoon. Despite such treatment, Aiya, who arrived from Iraq with her parents around three years ago, soon after announced to stunned reporters that she understood why her mother had assaulted her: “Because I talked to a boy, and that is not normal with her, that is not my religion. My religion says no talking to boys.”

Alhough Aiya’s was among the few to receive media attention, stories like hers are far more common than most people would imagine. In what is known as “honor violence,” mistreatment includes not just beatings, but acid attacks, setting a woman on fire, severing her nose from her face — particularly in Pakistani and Afghan communities — and other forms of mutilation.

Such incidents, which occur mainly in Muslim and Hindu families, have been the focus of attention in Europe for several years — largely thanks to the efforts of Somali-Dutch activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who first brought the problem to light some ten years ago in the Netherlands. Since then, research has uncovered disturbing statistics: 400 to 600 incidents of honor violence are recorded annually in the Netherlands alone, with around 12 honor killings a year each in Germany and the Netherlands. And in England, where the directors of one center say they receive 500 calls for help from victims of honor violence every month, and where police estimate there are between 3,000 and 17,000 incidents of honor violence each year, a recent report contends that one-fifth of all South Asian immigrants believe that “certain acts thought to shame families were justification for violence.”

Americans, however, have been reluctant to accept the notion that honor violence occurs on US soil, just as – until recently – they insisted that the radicalization of Muslims in Europe was not a problem that could confront Americans. But with events such as Nidal Malik Hassan’s 2009 attack at Fort Hood and the would-be Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, we’ve learned otherwise: radical Islam is alive and well in these United States and with it, religious and culturally-based violence against women.

CBS News has reported that, “According to a survey, the [Virginia-based] Tahirih Justice Center conducted of more than 500 social service, religious, legal, educational and medical agencies last year, 67 percent responded that they believed there were cases of forced marriage occurring among the populations they serve, but only 16 percent felt their agency was equipped to deal with the situation.” Yet no one had ever investigated the problem.

Now Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) has introduced a bill that promises to make clear just how big the problem is, and – if necessary – to develop programs to address it.

Those who have experience with the issue say that such programs are sorely needed: while Americans are growing more aware of honor killings, they are less conscious of honor violence — a more insidious but even larger phenomenon. Moreover, domestic violence shelters and services are not adequately suited to handle the problem, which encompasses more complex and dangerous situations, and which often require a different kind of outreach: honor violence victims are often immigrants with little or no understanding of the resources available, few outside contacts, and in the case of Muslims, are often not even allowed access to the outside world except when accompanied by a male family member.

More significantly, in cases of honor violence, the entire family –- even the entire community –- is involved. Where a domestic violence victim can often find shelter with a friend or family member, such refuge is usually impossible for these women. “What do we do with a teenager runaway? Ninety-nine percent of the time, we take her home,” Peoria, Arizona, Detective Chris Boughey told CBS. “But some of these girls end up getting killed.”

Israelis Among ‘Most Satisfied’ in Developed World

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

A recent survey of the OECD’s (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) 34 countries suggests that Israelis are enjoying a Scandinavian-level quality of life, with Israel ranking sixth in ‘life satisfaction.’

The site Daily Finance analyzed data compiled by the OECD, examining variables like ‘self-reported good health,’ ‘life expectancy,’ ‘employment rate,’ ‘employees working long hours,’ and ‘educational attainment.’

Israelis are among the healthiest in the developed world, with a low obesity rate (13.8%) and life expectancy of nearly 82 years old. By comparison, the obesity rate in the U.S. – which ranked 11th overall in the survey – is 20% higher than Israel, and has an average life expectancy of 79 years.

In spite of the seemingly-ubiquitous security concerns, 70% of Israelis surveyed reported feeling safe walking home at night, while the homicide rate in Israel is comparable to the OECD average (2.1 murders/100,000 people).

Still, the survey found that Israel ranked 24th in employment rate (with 60% of eligible workforce employed), while of those Israelis that are employed, nearly 20% of work long hours (defined in the survey as working at least 50 hours a week).

Denmark was rated as having the most satisfied citizens in the developed world, followed by Norway, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Austria. After Israel, Finland, Australia, Canada, and Sweden rounded out the top 10.

 JTA Contributed to this report

The Netherlands: The Holocaust As Memory Battlefield

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

There are few societies where the contradiction between Holocaust distortion and Holocaust commemoration is as pronounced as it is in the Netherlands. This phenomenon came to the fore earlier this month on National Memorial Day, May 4, designated to commemorate the many victims of the German occupier. One hundred thousand Dutch Jews – more than 70 percent of the country’s pre-war community – were by far the largest group of victims.

The small town of Vorden decided that those participating in the ceremony for Dutch victims could also jointly visit the graves of German soldiers who are buried there. Originally it was intended that the local choir would sing a German song at the graves. That part of the program was soon scrapped. A Jewish organization went to court and obtained an injunction which forbade the mayor – who is a main proponent of whitewashing the war past – to participate in the visit to the German graves. A number of Jews hired a small plane that flew over the town with a banner reading: “Vorden Went Wrong.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center denounced the Vorden authorities: “By honoring the German soldiers who occupied the Netherlands on behalf of the most murderous regime in human history…the local authorities of Vorden have basically rewritten the history of the war, erasing the critical distinction between victims and perpetrators. Such a decision is apparently based on the erroneous assumption that forgiveness automatically leads to reconciliation, ignores the horrific nature of the Nazi regime and is an insult to its victims.”

The Vorden incident did not stand alone. The National Committee for Commemoration chose a 15-year-old boy to read his poem at the National Ceremony in Amsterdam. It commemorated his uncle, after whom he was named, who had joined the Waffen SS. After protests, the reading was cancelled.

Dutch whitewashers and distorters of the Holocaust and the Second World War come from different backgrounds. A number of them are family members of those Dutch who collaborated with Nazi Germany. The Netherlands had 25,000 Waffen SS volunteers, the largest contingent in Western Europe. And there were many other collaborators not limited to members of the Dutch Nazi party.

Related phenomena are the defacing of Holocaust memorials and Jewish sites, swastikas painted on buildings, and anti-Semitic and Holocaust denial postings on Dutch Internet sites Dutch Prime Minister Marc Rutte, who was educated as a historian, said, while he was the parliamentary leader of the liberal faction, that Holocaust denial should not be punished.

On the other hand, it is difficult to find another country where so much attention is given to commemorating its destroyed Jewish communities. Many municipalities clean and maintain Jewish cemeteries on a regular basis. Some organizations and individuals even re-erect fallen gravestones and repaint the lettering.

Not only are there monuments for the murdered Jews in many towns, there are even plans for new ones. Memorial “stumbling” stones embedded in pavements in front of homes where Jews lived before their deaths have been placed in tens of towns and more are planned for the future.

Jewish monuments are “adopted” and cleaned by schoolchildren in some towns. Many synagogues that were no longer in use after the Second World War have been restored in past decades and serve as cultural centers and the like. A few even host Jewish services. There are many other annual memorial activities.

Prime Minister Rutte best embodies the ignorance and ambiguity of many authorities. At the beginning of this year the continued lack of an apology for the Dutch wartime government’s almost total disinterest in the fate of the Dutch Jews became a public issue. Two Freedom Party parliamentarians, Geert Wilders and Raymond de Roon, submitted questions on this matter to the prime minister. Rutte refused to apologize. The reasons he gave were entirely irrelevant to the questions he was asked.

Thus the Netherlands, in its refusal to acknowledge the wartime misconduct of its authorities, remains far behind all other Western European governments.

Much of what has been described above exists in other countries as well, but nowhere is the dichotomy between commemoration and denial as clearly visible as in the Netherlands.

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He has authored or edited 20 books, several of which address anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism.

Europe’s Wrongheaded Austerity Policies

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Austerity — what governments are currently experiencing in Europe – can be a bad thing. It is a well-known basic economic theory that when politicians try to slash the government budget by taxing citizens rather than by cutting government expenditure, they only harm the economy, which results in less tax income and worsens the situation. In the early 1970s, economist Arthur Laffer visualized it by drawing a curve on a napkin, indicating that from a certain point on, higher taxes result in less government income. When taxes are raised even further, the economy begins to contract.

A typical example can currently be seen in the Netherlands. The country’s economy has not grown in the last three quarters. Pressured by the European Union, austerity policies were introduced in 2010. Last April, the government fell when the Freedom Party of Geert Wilders refused to back a new austerity package of €11.5 billion, of which only €4 billion was to come from cutting expenditures and €7.5 billion was expected to come from raising taxes. The new austerity round was nevertheless imposed by the EU, which insisted that the Netherlands trim its budget deficit to 3% of BBP in 2013. Geert Wilders was right to have refused to go along with the latest plans. Not only will the amount of €7.5 billion in new taxes in all likelihood not be reached, but the Dutch economy will be hampered even more.

Last January, Standard & Poor’s warned the Netherlands that its credit rating could be lowered if its growth kept declining. S&P warned that the Dutch austerity policies risked “becoming self-defeating, as domestic demands fall in line with consumers’ rising concerns about job security and disposable incomes, eroding national tax revenues.”

Geert Wilders’ party is expected to do well in next September’s general elections. The electorate agrees with his rejection of the austerity package. Like Mr. Wilders, it blames the EU authorities in Brussels for imposing these policies on the Netherlands.

The same phenomenon can be seen all over Europe, with electorates in revolt against EU-imposed austerity everywhere. The rising unpopularity of governments that are trying to cut back their deficits has worried the IMF. Earlier this month, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said that the IMF is aware that fiscal austerity holds back growth and that the effects are worse in an economic downturn. This is, however, only a half-truth. As no one, not even the state, can indefinitely continue to spend more money than he receives, cutting government expenditure – hence austerity – is badly needed. The problem is that the austerity policies are targeting not the institution which is living beyond its means — namely the government — but the taxpayers. As Europeans are already suffering tax levels that are almost twice as high as those in the U.S., it is only natural that the voters are in revolt.

The irony is that the austerity policies of the past years have been imposed at the behest of the unelected liberal, leftist authorities in Brussels on center-right governments in the EU member states. The electorates are punishing their center-right governments by voting in center-left politicians who promise to end the austerity policies and “tax the rich” — a course that will make matters even worse.

The Dutch are lucky to have Geert Wilders; but the French, who lack an equivalent of Mr. Wilders, quite understandably voted President Nicolas Sarkozy out because they disagreed with his austerity policy. However, they voted the Socialist François Hollande in, who will undoubtedly only heighten the problem.

The same phenomenon can be witnessed in the United Kingdom. Two years ago, the Conservative David Cameron managed to oust Labour. Today, polls predict that if elections were to be held now, Labour would beat the Conservatives with a margin of 10%. David Cameron is fortunate that Labour leader Ed Miliband is unpopular or the margin might be even larger.

What did Cameron do wrong? He, too, made tax payers pay for austerity. One of the first things Mr. Cameron did was to raise Britain’s top tax rate to 50%. The result was that the tax revenue from Britain’s highest income group fell. Another thing Cameron did was to raise sales taxes. VAT – or Value Added Tax – rose from 17.5 to 20%, the highest level ever, as part of Cameron’s effort to bring down the country’s budget deficit.

Santorum, Dutch Euthanasia And Goldstone

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum stated recently that ten percent of those who die in the Netherlands are killed by euthanasia. He added that half of these cases were involuntary.

Since 136,000 people died in the Netherlands in 2010, Santorum was essentially claiming that Dutch doctors kill close to 7,000 mainly elderly people per year without their permission. Over the course of a few years, this would make the Dutch medical profession a far bigger murderer of civilians than Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

There were many loud protests from the Netherlands stating that Santorum’s claims were false, as euthanasia is applied on 2.5 percent of all dying people per year. There are also no exact data on how many people were killed without their permission. A contributor to Forbes, however, pointed out that when applying certain calculations, Santorum’s claims may not have been so far off.

Whatever the exact figure, there are hundreds of cases every year of euthanasia in the Netherlands in which the patient is not asked his or her permission.

Let us now employ a bit of fantasy and assume that Muslim states were intent on assailing the Netherlands. They would claim in the United Nations Human Rights Council that such killings are a severe breach of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These states could easily muster a majority to have the UNHRC appoint a commission of inquiry into this matter.

Who would be better qualified to head such a committee than the Grand Master of Flawed UNHRC Reporting, Judge Richard Goldstone? As his report on Israel was a classic exercise in distorted methodology, its model would be followed. His committee of inquiry would include one member who had already condemned the Netherlands on euthanasia and another who was generally hostile to the country.

Goldstone and his associates would set out with their proven procedural methods. The commission would reach its conclusion on the basis of what it “saw, heard and read.”

The commission had accepted hearsay in the Gaza war investigation; it would thus do the same in the Dutch situation.

As there are many medical doctors in the Netherlands who consider euthanasia immoral, a number of them would likely testify and present the “facts” about its abuse. (The refusal of these doctors to commit euthanasia has already led to another contested initiative – a system of mobile euthanasia units that will travel around the Netherlands to respond to the wishes of sick people who want to end their lives.)

Some individuals appearing before the Goldstone commission would tell of how family members had asked for involuntary euthanasia to be carried out on a patient in order to lay their hands on his inheritance.

As hearsay is accepted as evidence, I could also appear before the commission. I have a Dutch acquaintance who told me how hospital doctors exercised extreme pressure on her to authorize euthanasia on her mortally ill husband. She stated it was only because she has a son who is a doctor and another who is a lawyer that she had resisted their coercion.

As tens of babies born with an open back have been killed by Dutch doctors in recent years, there would likely be other doctors who would testify to the Goldstone commission that children born with that affliction have been unjustifiably characterized in Dutch society as “misfits.” Others who might appear before the commission would be from Helping Hands, a Christian organization that works for better protection for the handicapped.

Due to the commission inquiry, the international public argument on euthanasia would be widened. There would be articles stating that there have been quite a few doctors in history who were also mass murderers. They would then refer to Josef Mengele of Auschwitz infamy. This theme of doctors who murder could be extended to the late Haitian dictator Papa Doc François Duvalier and Bashar al Assad, as well as many other lesser known figures.

If Goldstone were consistent, the report would be damning. After some time had passed and major damage to The Netherlands was done, he would write an article recanting part of his report, just as he did concerning Israel.

All of this of course, is purely a thought experiment. Deeply flawed UNHRC reports only focus on the one country it condemns consistently – Israel. All other countries, including the Netherlands, needn’t worry.

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Dutch Government Opposes Anti-Israeli EU Report

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

The European Union, the supranational organization of the 27 most developed European nations, is one of the most outspoken and frequent international critics of Israel. Its reports on the situation in the Middle East are often so unfair and biased that not only have they drawn the ire of Israel, they have also angered the government of one of the EU’s six original founding states, the Netherlands, which no longer wants to endorse the reports emanating from the EU mission in Ramallah.

Last December, the EU heads of mission in Ramallah authored a report on the situation in Jerusalem in which they accused Israel of trying to destroy chances for peace with Palestinians by snatching control of East Jerusalem through the construction of Israeli settlements. “If current trends continue, the prospect of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states becomes increasingly unlikely and unworkable, undermining a two-state solution … [Israeli actions] provide fuel to those who want to further radicalise the conflict,” the report stated.

It noted that the 790,000 Arabs living in Jerusalem suffer from overcrowding, dirty streets and poor sewage, that Palestinian children in Israeli-run schools are forced to use books which are “edited” for “sensitive” content, that ambulances with Palestinian patients are subjected to “unnecessary and potentially life-threatening delays” and that archeological projects put “emphasis on biblical and Jewish-Israeli connotations of the area while neglecting Arab/Muslim claims of historic-archeological ties.”

The report advocated that the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, propose legislation “to prevent/discourage [EU] financial transactions in support of settlement activity,” “ensure” that Israeli vegetables from settlement farms do not get preferential import tariffs in the EU, and that EU countries “share information on violent settlers … to assess whether to grant entry into EU member states.”

This report came barely a week after another report which had accused Israel of monopolizing farm land and water in the Jordan Valley in a bid to drive out native Arabs, while another recent EU paper had accused Israel of eroding the civil liberties of Arab-Israeli citizens.

Last January, Israeli information minister Yoel ‘Yuli’ Edelstein questioned the accuracy of the EU reports which are drafted without Israeli input. Edelstein said these surveys are part of a decades-long “attempt to undermine [Israel's] very legitimacy.

Last week it was revealed that the EU ambassadors in Ramallah had composed yet another report. This time they accuse Israel of not doing enough to stop aggression from Jewish settlers against Palestinians. The report claims that the Jewish violence is rapidly increasing, while “the Israeli state … has so far failed to protect the Palestinian population.”

According to the report, Jewish attacks vary from gunfire to throwing stones and garbage at Arabs, including children, burning homes and mosques, killing livestock and uprooting olive trees. The report says that the attacks resulted in three Palestinian deaths last year. “There has been no widespread response from the Palestinian side,” the EU report states, although it admits that Palestinians killed eight Jews (including five members of one family). The aim of the Jewish attacks is to “effectively force a withdrawal of the Palestinian population, … thereby increasing the scope for settlement expansion.”

The Netherlands declined to endorse the report, forcing the non-Dutch EU diplomats in Ramallah to add the footnote: “the NL [Netherlands] places a general reserve on the document.” A senior Israeli official also dismissed the report. “It’s unacceptable,” he said. “We had numerous cases over the past year when Israeli citizens, including schoolchildren, were brutally murdered by Palestinians and I think for the Israeli public these reports would have more credibility if they were more neutral.”

The fact that the Dutch openly distanced themselves from an EU report angered the other EU countries. “We are witnessing the toughest position the Netherlands has ever adopted,” one EU diplomat told the Dutch newspaperNRC-Handelsblad. “Moreover, it is a position which resembles the toughest position within Israel.”

It is, however, not the first time that Dutch foreign minister Uri Rosenthal has stood up for Israel. Last September, he managed to stop European diplomats at the UN reaching a common position on the status of human rights in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The Dutch government is a minority government of Liberals and Christian-Democrats, backed by the Freedom Party of Geert Wilders. Both Uri Rosenthal, who is Jewish, and Geert Wilders, who is not Jewish, are politicians who are personally acquainted with the situation in Israel. Rosenthal’s wife is an Israeli citizen. Wilders spent a year living in Israel, including in a Jewish settlement in the Jordan valley.

The Dutch government is not only on a collision course with the EU over Israel, but is also pushing for stricter immigration rules. European immigration rules are to a large extent set by the EU and not by the member states. While the Dutch insist on stricter regulations, the European Commission and other EU members are so far unwilling to address the issue.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/dutch-government-opposes-anti-israeli-eu-report/2012/03/20/

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